Road Cycling Events in the 2012 London Summer Olympics
Four road cycling events, road races and time trials for men and women, will be held at the 2012 London Summer Olympics. The road races will be held at The Mall and Box Hill July 28–29, and the time trials will be held at Hampton Court Palace on August 1.
Competitors include 145 men and 67 women. Each country can enter five men and 4 women in the road races but only two men and two women in the time trials.
Although the first cycling road races were held at the 1896 Athens games, road cycling didn't become a permanent part of the Olympic Games until 1912, and women didn't begin competing until 1984 in Los Angeles.
A panel of officials, called race commissaires, are responsible for monitoring the athletes. More than 100 officials will be in vehicles riding along the road race course.
Road races in the 2012 London Summer Olympics
In the road races, all riders start together on The Mall, and the riders travel on a course through the city that includes loops around Box Hill. The men complete nine loops versus only two loops for the women. Simply enough, the first rider across the finish line earns the gold medal.
However, teamwork plays a part in these road races. Sometimes, it's not about grabbing an individual medal but more about making a sacrifice to give a teammate an advantage. At the end of the road race, you sometimes see a rider sacrifice his or her chances to benefit the team leader. This is referred to as a lead out.
As with most Olympic competitors, road racers must be incredible athletes, with great timing, the strength to accelerate, and stamina to keep up with the breakaway groups.
A breakaway group is one that breaks away from the main pack of riders, the peloton, and surges to the lead.
The men's course for the road race is 250 kilometers, and the women's course is 140 kilometers.
Summer Olympics road cycling time trials
Entrants in the time trials actually start in 90-second intervals, and, of course, the athlete with the fastest overall time wins the gold medal. The men's course for the time trials is 44 kilometers, and the women's course is 29 kilometers.
Only two men and two women from each country are allowed to compete in the time trials.
Starting and finishing at the Hampton Court Palace, the time trial course is a single lap (for both men and women) through Richmond, Kingston-upon-Thames, and Surrey.